Video: Powerful fuel cell to propel aviationS. Himmelstein | October 12, 2021
HyPoint is developing new zero carbon-emission turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell systems for the aviation and urban air mobility sectors. Together with BASF New Business, researchers will develop and test a new proton conductive Celtec membrane with stronger mechanical properties that can operate at higher temperatures and a higher-pressure differential.
HyPoint’s core innovation is a new turbo air-cooling architecture. By utilizing compressed air for both cooling and oxygen supply, the overall weight is reduced compared with traditional liquid cooling. The design features a next-generation high-temperature proton-exchange membrane (HTPEM) instead of a low-temperature membrane, which increases the efficiency of a cooling system by at least 300%.
The hydrogen fuel cell system offers at least 2,000 W/kg of specific power, more than triple the power-to-weight ratio of traditional liquid-cooled hydrogen fuel cells systems, and up to 1,500 Wh/kg of energy density, enabling longer-distance journeys.
The new membrane-electrode assembly technology resulting from the partnership is expected to significantly improve the performance of the HTPEM fuel cell system. In addition to reducing weight, the enhanced mechanical properties of the membrane will increase system durability. The new high-performance fuel cell system is expected to achieve more than 3,000 W/kg, an increase of at least 50% over the current system, and become available to customers in mid-2024.
BASF has been manufacturing Celtec membranes and membrane-electrode assemblies for more than 15 years. While cyclic operation, various impurities in the gas flow, and changing environmental conditions can stress the materials used in low-temperature fuel cells, Celtec HTPEM assemblies allow operation at temperatures between 120° C and 180° C, enabling a high tolerance to impurities while simplifying temperature and water management.